Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Decorating Kid's Rooms With Super-Easy and Super-Cool Wall Decals From

In the email signature from Artistic Sensations, the quote, "where whimsical meets practical in the art of children's room design" is touted. And, I couldn't say it better myself!

We were sent the Super Mario Bros movable and reusable wall graphics to review! They make the room so fun!

The "movable" (made with blik Re-Stick) aspect of the decals allows for children (or even parents!) to make a mistake and fix it. I LOVE that part! Because, usually when decorating a room, you have to be super-careful not to make a mistake and it's hard to include children in on those types of projects.But, now they can participate in the fun!

I chose to let Nicholas and Wes decorate their room with the wall decals, because Veronica and Lucas have their own rooms, while Nicholas and Wes have to share. It's only fair, right?

The boys were in a rush to decorate once we moved into our new home...and some of the decals came out lopsided and topsy-turvy, but that was okay! Because, after they stepped back and looked at them, they were able to figure out how to peel-and-stick until they were evenly laid.

And, even better than that, if you move to another place, you can bring them along with you! (Hopefully, that won't be the case, because we love our house!)

There are tons of different decals to choose from, too! What's your taste? I bet there are several different sets that will match your (or your child's) likes - it's definitely hard to choose! Of course, now that we've decorated the boys' room, my other two children are bugging me to get them some, too! (Isn't that how it goes?)

I liked the way that the decals came - there were a ton of different pieces and you can "make" your own scene. It was neat to see the boys trying to figure out what the "logical" way to place the decals was. How does each piece look in the game? Where do the coins go? How should the blocks be positioned? They even had Mario jumping from a block to reach a coin.

Decorating + Imagination + Creativity + Logical Thinking = I.LOVE.IT!

So, without further ado, I present you the Nicholas and Wes Mario Bros Bedroom Theme:

The "extra wall" that we all worked on and half of Nicholas' wall

Wes and his wall

Nicholas and his wall

Mommy helped to do this one

And another pic of Wes's wall with both of the boys

Now that you've seen the pictures, I want to remind you about the quote: "Where whimsical meets practical in the art of children's room design". A perfect way to say it, don'tcha think?

I'm sure that we'll be doing another room (or two...or three) in the near future! Veronica already has her mind set on wall decals for her birthday this year (and that's not until December!) and when we do more, I will be sure to post it up!

Thank you, Artistic Sensations, for letting us review your wall decals! It was a ton of fun!

If you like what you see:

Become a fan of Artistic Sensations on facebook

Follow them on Twitter

I was sent a product to review in order to perform this review. No monetary compensation was exchanged. All opinions are honest and unbiased.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Do You Keep In YOUR Baby Bag?

My wonderful mother-in-law sent three boxes chock full of stuff out to our family - and the past few days have been like Christmas for all of us around here!

One of the things that she sent was a baby bag....

Isn't it beautiful???
But, there was another bag that she sent that would be perfect for packing up a day trip for the whole family, as it is very large and has super-cool large zippered pockets inside...apparently, Kodi-bear decided that THIS one needed to be the *real* baby bag!

That's what he does when I say, "smile".... :)

Another original smile

So, my question to you is: what do YOU keep in your baby bag?

Three Options for Mom-Friendly Hobbies

Okay, I’m going to start out by stating the obvious; moms need a break.

Sometimes a bubble bath can cure all my problems for an hour. Other times, I need a way to be creative and constructive and totally selfish. In other words, I need a hobby.

Author Julia Cameron noted that “The creative process is a process of surrender, not control”. This is probably the best way to define a hobby, as well as explaining why it’s important to have one.

How many things are mommies supposed to be in control of? Menus, finances, schedules, school supplies, clean socks, et cetera. So, at what point are we allowed to give up control? Here’s a hint; it won’t be while the kids are in the room.

A hobby is something that will allow you to give up control of the world, go to a quiet space, and just play. You can play with paper, play in the dirt, or play a song. The best hobby tips I’ve ever heard are;

  • hobbies are more about the process than the outcome, and
  • a hobby is something you enjoy, not something someone else approves of.

With these guidelines in place, I’ve managed to narrow my hobby ideas down to three; scrapbooking, gardening, and piano playing. Now I just need to narrow those three possibilities down to the one that suits my needs at the moment.

Gardening for Mommies

Having maintained a respectable looking lawn for several years now, I can assure you that gardening is not about control. Okay, some folks who cultivate prize-winning roses might disagree, but for the average gardener, the process is simple. Plant a seed, water the seed, and stand back. Nature will take care of the rest – or not.

Whether or not I end up with the most beautiful garden in the neighborhood, though, there are still some obvious benefits to gardening;

  • sunshine and fresh air are good for people as well as plants,
  • growing plants from seed will help me learn patience, or
  • purchasing plants at the nursery will give me an excuse to go shopping.

Maybe getting a bit of dirt under my fingernails could be a healthy thing.

Scrapbooking for the Over-Scheduled

Back before married life, mommyhood and a career took over my schedule, I did a little scrapbooking, and I even completed a couple of family books. Of course, I have many more photos to organize now, and far less time to organize them. Nonetheless, if I get started now, I could have Samantha’s baby book done in time for her graduation.

Aside from having a beautifully crafted book to show off, scrapbooking offers a few other benefits;

  • I will be able to tap into my creative side by playing with colors, shapes and textures.
  • If I rely more on my own creativity than someone else’s marketing gimmick, scrapbooking can be a very affordable hobby.
  • Taking time to go through our familypictures will remind me of how much I have to be thankful for.

Maybe this could be worth the time it will take to clear out a corner of the den and set up a worktable.

Piano Lessons for Grown-Ups

I actually took piano for a little while in high school, but I quit before really accomplishing anything. I quit because of a lack of interest and what I naively considered to be a lack of time. Now that I’m old enough to appreciate the value of music as well as how to use my time, I’d like to take up the piano again. This time, though, a few things have changed:

  • I can learn how to play piano on my computer, rather than hiring a teacher. Consequently;
  • I can schedule both lessons and practices to suit my schedule, not someone else’s, and
  • I won’t have to worry about upcoming recitals or other performances. I can just play for the love of it.

I’ll be able to download or purchase plenty of songs on the piano for beginners, and if I never get good enough to play anything by Aaron Copeland, it won’t matter.

Hobby Ideas for the Rest of Us

Having looked at the advantages of each of these hobbies, I have come to an important realization; I just can’t decide. Fortunately, I don’t have to pick just one, do I? I could garden in the spring and summer, scrapbook in the fall and winter, and I could play the piano whenever I feel like it.

So, do you have a hobby or a few hobbies you’d care to share with us? It’s always fun to know how other people maintain their sanity.

About the Author:

Melissa Cameron is a married mother of two, beginning piano player and full time freelance writer. When she isn’t busy exercising, maintaining a house or raising two daughters, Melissa produces informative articles on parenting, frugal living, and maintaining one’s sanity.

Thanks, Melissa, for your contribution to Mommy Rantings! I actually LOVE to "raise" flowers. :) Since moving into our new house, I have purchased a few plants to enjoy - and try to keep alive through the winter! I have 2 African Violets, 2 Kalanchoe (a red and a pink), 2 deep purple mums for the fall - they are beautiful! - and two assorted hanging baskets that will eventually need to be split up and repotted for the winter season.

I'm hoping that they all survive the winter in the basement - a trick that I was just told by a friend - and that my thumb is at least halfway "green" enough to carry them through the winter...I'll have to keep you posted!. :) So far, they are all thriving, far beyond the growth that I expected this late in the season! I've had to repot all of them (except the hanging baskets, which I will save for last)!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jungle Speed: A Challeging and Fun Game Kids Love (Even the Computer-Addicted Children!) - Review and Giveaway!

It's always exciting to get a box in the mail for the children to review! It's even more exhilarating for us to have the opportunity to give a super-cool product away to another family!

When I started to explain the email to my children about the game Jungle Speed by Asmodee, my 9 year old, Nicholas, announced, "Hey! My teacher has that game! It's soooo fun!" As usual, the cheers arose when I told the kids that we were receiving the game to review.

It came quickly in the mail, so there was no delay in getting right to the reviewing! The first thing that I noticed about the game was that it was perfect for a large family like ours. Most games only accommodate only 4 or 6 players, but Jungle Speed has room for 2 to 10 players.

Then, although the game requires the speed of children who are aged 8 and above, the concept of the game was simple enough to include both the 6 year old and our four year old, which was also wonderful! For kids who are addicted to the Internet and computers, I am proud, delighted and surprised to say that they will actually decided to play Jungle Speed without being kicked off the computers because their precious "computer allotted time" per day has expired. Now, THAT should tell you something!

This isn't one of those games (and most of them turn out this way) that my kids play once and then put up on the shelf to collect dust. HONESTLY, they have played it at least two times per week since we received it about 6 weeks ago. THAT should tell you something, too! It surprises me every time I hear one of my kids say, "Hey, you want to play Jungle Speed?" to a sibling. It makes me feel good, too. It's a great game for coordination and quick action. It's also great, with our size family, for my oldest children to take the time with the younger ones and teach them how to play, which requires (and also teaches) my older children patience! Bonus points!

Here is how the email described the game:

Jungle Speed is the fast and furious game of quick thinking and lightening fast reflexes.  Think classic card games Spoons or WAR, embellish the cards with abstract shapes and colors and add a call to action to race opponents to a totem.  Each player must be spot-on, in between outbursts of laughter and action!  Jungle Speed features easy-to-learn play for entertaining and animated fun for the entire family.

It’s good for the brain, too! Recent research shows that board games, such as Jungle Speed, are positively impacting on children’s cognitive development skills and brain motor function.  The game play also helps kids develop valuable skills in patience, cooperation, concentration, teamwork and perseverance.

The Jungle Speed game is engaging and exciting.  The complete deck of cards featuring abstract images is divided evenly among all players.  They place their cards face down in front of them.  A bright yellow totem is placed in the middle of the table.
       Each player, in turn, reveals the top card of their draw pile. As players become more familiar with the symbols, they flip cards faster.  Players are looking for identical cards.  Colors do not matter, only symbols.
       If two cards are identical, those players must make a grab for the totem.  The faster player then gets to dump off all their cards to their unfortunate adversary.
       To add to the difficulty, certain symbols on the cards are almost identical, which can trick a player into grabbing the totem by mistake.
       Just when players think they've got it down, one of three special cards can temporarily change the rules and keep them on the edge.  Players may be called to make a grab at once, look for matching colors and not symbols, or even simultaneously flip cards.
       The first person to get rid of all their cards wins the game!
       Players:  2 to 10
       Price: $19.99/ Ages: 8 and up/ Availability: July 2011

Where to Buy

Jungle Speed can be purchased at Walmart, Target, Toys 'R' Us and many other retail stores across the U.S.

Win It!

Aha! But, now you have the chance to win Jungle Speed, right here on Mommy Rantings! Gear up to show your kids a ton of fun. I'm going to make this giveaway simple for you, too!

"Like" Jungle Speed on Facebook.(Leave a comment on their page that Mommy Rantings sent you!)

"Like" Mommy Rantings on Facebook and say "hi" to the other Mommy Rantings "Likers".

Then, post a comment below this post that you did both and you are officially entered to win Jungle Speed! This giveaway will end Sept 10th! Good luck!

I received a product for the purpose of review. I was not compensated for this post. All of the opinions stated in this post are my own.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

5 Incredible Birthday Party Ideas For Parents (Yes, You Can Have Super-Cool Parties, Too!)

Sometime past our 21st birthday, most of us stop getting excited by the prospect of growing older. We hang up the party hats and streamers, blow out the candles, and just stop telling people when our birthdays roll around. Even if you don’t want to share your true age with the entire world, birthdays parties are not just for kids; they are wonderful excuses to get together with your friends and family and just have fun.

If it’s been a while since your last birthday party, or you just want a few fresh ideas, here are a few incredible ideas for adult parties to get you started:

1. Casino Night

Whether you play for real money or M&M’s, a casino-themed party is one of the most fun adult parties that you can throw. Invite only high rollers to your party by adhering to a strict dress code of black tie or gangster. Pick up a slot machine and roulette wheel from the internet or a yard sale and stock up on face cards to transform your party venue into Monte Carlo. Add fun decorations and reward the “winners” with casino-themed favors for a party that your guests will never forget.

Amy Winehouse can be mimicked for inspiring a "worst dressed" party!

2. Worst Dressed

A worst dressed party is a time for your guests to show off their creative side by competing to see who can come dressed the worst outfit. Encourage party attendees to look in the back of their closets or at a local thrift store to find truly outrageously awful attire. For this party, be sure to plan activities where your guests will have to go out and show their “costumes” to the world at large—a scavenger hunt around town or a trip to a karaoke bar.

3. Medieval Party

Every little girl dreams of being a princess, and having a medieval party is a chance for adults to step back into that childhood fantasy. Guests come dressed as princes, princesses, dukes, duchesses, knights, ladies, or squires. For activities, you can hold a ball or a tourney in which guests compete in various medieval events. For a fun challenge, when dinnertime rolls around, don’t provide any flatware for your guests and watch what happens when they have to eat with their hands.

4. This is Your Life

A “This is Your Life” party is a fun idea for anyone turning a Big Number: 21, 30, 40, etc., and it works wonderfully as a surprise party. For this, collect mementos and photos that tell the story of the guest of honor and invite friends and family from all stages of this person’s life. The more “long-lost” the guests, the more fun this party will be. During the party, invite guests to share funny or remarkable stories and show a video or slideshow filled with of unforgettable memories.

5. Back to the Future

Back in the 80’s when the Back to the Future movies were filmed, people had a much different idea about what the future twenty years down the road would be like. Invite your friends to step into the shoes of science fiction writers and come dressed in a costume from the “future.” Decorate your venue with futuristic items such as spaceships, ray guns, and flying cars. Host a video game tournament and serve “future” food (think dehydrated and/or weird colors).

Take these ideas, create birthday invitation templates, and enlist the help of friends to plan an awesome adult birthday party that will have the neighborhood talking.

About the author: Teresa Dahl is a writer for, and is also a professional “mommy”.

Thank you, Teresa, for your contribution to Mommy Rantings! For you parents: you can also find many of the items that you need for any of the above parties at a party rental store...but, use those creative juices to find great deals for your party at excellent prices!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's A Mommy Rantings Baby Shower/Baby Product Review Party! Get Your Baby Product Reviewed on A PR3 Mom Blog!

Attention PR reps! Are you looking for mom blogs who do baby product reviews? Do you have a unique baby product? Maybe you are trying to introduce a new baby product on the Internet...or hosting a promotion of your baby products to increase sales...or simply want to increase the sales of your baby products. If you are looking for a way to get your baby products noticed, Mommy Rantings has great news for you!

The QueenMom is expecting her seventh child in a few weeks and is open to doing a few baby product reviews right here on Mommy Rantings. It's a Mommy Rantings baby shower review party! And, it's a BOY!
Why Would You Choose the QueenMom to Review Your Products?

Here is your opportunity to get your business name and products out there on a PR3 site! Mommy Rantings reviews are customized and keyword enhanced to get the best SEO on Google and also include images and a very personalized opinion to influence the buying decision of consumers. 

You will also get links included in the review, commonly known as backlinks, to your baby products website from a PR3 site - which, at the rate it is growing, will most likely be a PR4 on the next Google Pagerank update - and nobody ever knows when that is going to happen! (Google Pagerank updates are always a guessing game.) 

You can feel free to link back to the review on your site or quote the review to "show" to consumers who are browsing through your products. Many companies have quoted Mommy Rantings reviews on their product blogs and sites, including Playful Planet, TheraBreath and Vivoderm.Check them out!

With an Alexa score that has steadily fallen from over 1M in less than the past month (the lower the score, the greater the amount of traffic), it's obvious that Mommy Rantings has seen an influx of new visitors and will continue to grow even more as content is posted. As a matter of fact, the Alexa score was  852,528 on the 25th of August and 839,060 on the 26th. As I write this announcement, it sits at 826,694. You can go directly to the Alexa site Mommy Rantings page, which will tell you even more info about Mommy Ranting's stats!

If you DO visit the Alexa page, you will notice that the list of keywords are for a lot of the reviews that have been posted in the past. Any baby product reviews will receive plenty of attention!

If you are interested in participating in (sponsoring) the Mommy Rantings baby shower/baby products review party and being included in the upcoming Baby Shower Product Guide, click on the Contact the QueenMom tab and scroll down to the form or send an email to! Looking forward to working with you!

Certain Dri "100 Days of Summer Giveaway" (Review & Giveaway!)

Certain Dri is a different type of anti-perspirant. It's not your normal run-of-the-mill, over-the-counter deodorant/anti-perspirant. First of all, with the help of the insert that came along with the product, I want to explain the difference between a deodorant and an anti-perspirant.


According to the insert, a deodorant is "any kind of fragrance used to cover up or deodorize one odor with another". It also mentions that, "rarely, however, can a deodorant inhibit perspiration or retard bacterial growth and odor for more than a brief time".


"A TRUE anti-perspirant", according to Certain Dri's insert, "should shrink and close off underarms pores to inhibit the flow of perspiration." In addition, "an anti-perspiration is also a deodorant because it prevents perspiration which is the source of odor-causing bacteria; but a deodorant is not necessarily an anti-perspirant."

Now, with that mess straightened out, maybe you'll be able to shop better. :)


The instructions require application at bed-time, and the reason for this is to get those pores to close while you are opposed to working against your active lifestyle during the day. Once applied, Certain-Dry touts that its protection lasts 72 hours. Now, I started using Certain Dri at the beginning of the summer and with being pregnant and the summer heat combined, I can safely say that I'd give Certain Dri, if applied as directed, about 48 hours to last. I was definitely in need of more deodorant after day two, however that may be because showers come into play - did you think I would go 3 days without showering? No thanks!

All in all, though, I have been very happy with Certain Dri and haven't bought - or even thought of buying - another anti-perspirant or deodorant all summer. And, there's still plenty left!


Certain-Dri's "100 Days of Summer Giveaway" is almost over - they're giving away one Certain-Dri until it ends on Sept 3rd. Simply like them on Facebook to enter. Every Friday, the weekly winners are announced.

But, if that's not enough for you, Certain-Dri has also offered to give away a Certain Dri Solid Anti-Perspirant to one U.S. winner, right here on Mommy Rantings!

Just click on the link about to "Like" Certain Dri on Facebook and then "Like" Mommy Rantings on Facebook. Don't forget to tell Certain Dri that I sent you on their Facebook page!!!

Finally, leave a comment that you liked both pages and you're entered! This giveaway will end on September 7th. Thank you, Certain Dri, for offering a product to review and sponsoring this giveaway!

I was provided a sample product of Certain Dri to perform my review. I was not provided compensation for this post. All opinions are specifically my own.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wakey Wakey: 4 Sure-Fire Ways to Get Your Child Up for School

Back-to-school season is here. And while some children may be excited about buying fresh school supplies and wondering if their friends will be in their classes, others are just simply dreading every part of it, especially the idea of early mornings. And who can blame them? It's hard getting used to getting up at the crack of dawn after sleeping-in for several weeks. But if you don't want to have a constant battle with your child each morning trying to wake them up for school, try these simple tips to get rid of their grogginess.

1. Make Them Get The Required Hours of Sleep. While this is the most obvious, it's also the most crucial. In order for your child to wake up refreshed in the morning he or she needs to get the recommended hours of sleep each night. The hours vary with age ranges, but according to experts the allotted amount of sleep should be as follows: 3 to 6 years old, 10 to 12 hours (occasional nap included); 7 to 12 years old, 10 to 11 hours; 12 to 18 years old, 8 to 9 hours. So don't allow your child to stay up too late, so that they can get the proper amount of sleep. It's also best to not allow your child to watch TV or play on the computer shortly before bedtime—experts say that these serve as stimulants and will actually reactivate your child's brain, making it harder for him or her to fall asleep. And your child will need their sleep. Sleep deprivation can result in a loss in concentration which can ultimately affect your child's grades.

Light therapy box

2. Try a Light Therapy Box. Because alarm clocks are annoying and can easily be turned off, another alternative to getting your child up in the morning in a more peaceful and natural way is to invest in a light therapy box. These devices are typically used to cure people of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) but they can also be used to wake your child up in the mornings. This is because these therapy boxes give off a bright light that is extremely similar to natural sunlight and has the power to wake people up.

3. Make Them Take Morning Showers. Another easy way your child can shake off sleepiness is to simply have him or her take a shower in the morning. Warm showers should suffice, but if you get them to finish it off with a cold splash of water they should be alert at least until noon. This is because our bodies react differently towards cold water. In short, the cold water has the ability to put our bodies in shock—this rush of adrenaline can keep us going for hours.

4. Feed Them Breakfast. Lastly, you have to make sure that your child eats a wholesome breakfast—even if it's on the go. Your child may not really like to eat so early in the mornings but the energy he or she receives from their early meal will give them the strength they need to perk up and continue functioning until lunch time. Try to avoid sugary breakfast foods that will make them crash early on. Instead, think whole grain toast, yogurt and energy-boosting fruits such as apples and bananas.

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at

Thank you, Nadia, for your excellent contribution to Mommy Rantings! Many children have already started school, but for the parents like me who still have another week until your kids start school, I have one more tip for you regarding sleep...

Parents often allow their children to stay up later during the summer, which ultimately modifies that internal clock that we all have. If you are one of those "cool" parents who has let your children stay up later during the summer, back up the bedtime 15 minutes each night. Ultimately, this works best if it is started weeks before school and you back up the bedtime 15 minutes each week, however if you're in a crunch, try 15 minutes every 3 nights or every other night, depending on how much time you have left. You will be glad that you did!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Are You Desperately Seeking Parenting Advice? The All-New Series, America's SuperNanny is Recruiting Families for Their Upcoming Season!

You've seen - or at least heard of - the show, SuperNanny...

And, I've blogged about Jo Frost several times, including when I finally mastered the SuperNanny time out after years of watching her show. Go ahead and click on the link and read the blog's a cute little story!

Did you read it? Too funny, huh?, I have exciting news! SuperNanny is "officially" coming to America. Yes, JoJo has been over here to America to help families out, but the producers of the show have decided to do something new this upcoming season: Jo Frost (who moved onto a new show, Jo Frost Extreme Parental Guidance so that she could free up some time to have a personal life, start dating and - so she hopes - have children of her own) is no longer going to star in the show SuperNanny. Instead, Shedmedia is seeking an American SuperNanny.

What does this mean for you? It means that if you are beating your head against the wall when it comes to parenting, there may be an answer for you!

Certainly, I can provide all of the advice, tips and guidance that I absolutely have the time for on Mommy Rantings and answer the plethora of emails that show up in my inbox asking me how I deal with this issue and that problem, but I can't do what Jo Frost was able to do...physically come to family's houses and help parents solve the issues that they are having with their children...Face-to-face, with a pocket full of ideas and tricks to implement in person.

I would LOVE the opportunity to help each and every one of you who are experiencing difficulties with your youngsters! And, one day, maybe I just might be offered the opportunity! (Maybe they will come out with a SuperMommy series?) But, Shedmedia must first notice that I am the QueenMom of six (going on seven) children and have a ton of advice and cool tricks and tips for parents, amazing kids to show how well my "advice" works...and the extreme desire to help other parents out.

In the meantime, I was contacted by Chris, a Casting Producer, to help them announce that they are currently seeking families for the upcoming season! If you and your family are in need of some in-home guidance and advice from someone like Jo Frost (or someone like me!), read and follow the instructions on the press release below!

Are your kids bouncing off the walls? Are you experiencing trouble with your teen? Has your family been through a traumatic change lately that has affected the kids? You might just be one of the lucky families that the new SuperNanny helps out!


Families must apply NOW for Lifetime’s all new AMERICA’s SUPERNANNY!

The well-known cable network, Lifetime, is launching the all-new 
unscripted series America’s Supernanny, marking the first true U.S. 
version of the hit global format that will feature an American homegrown 
The producers of Lifetime’s parenting series AMERICA’S SUPERNANNY are 
currently casting for families. We are sending casting teams around the country 
to find the next amazing families for the show.  If you are interested in the show, 
please email the Casting Team ASAP and provide the reason why you need help 
and a recent family photo.  Anonymous referrals are also accepted!  After 
receiving your info we will follow-up with you and try to schedule an in home 
Producers want families from every type of background who are ready for the 
opportunity of a lifetime—a visit from America’s SuperNanny!        
Please E-mail the Casting Team directly at: 

So, get those emails in and Good Luck!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Birthday Boy...

Just a quick post to share the pics of blowing out the "Magic Candles" on Dylan's 4th birthday cake last night...

You know those trick candles that just won't blow out? Of course, I HAD to get them!

They were blowing...

And blowing...

And had to recruit more help...
Fun for all! Happy birthday, my little "big boy"!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

5 Summer Activities to Entertain and Engage Multiples

Guest blog post by Molly Borter

As an aunt of triplet three-year-old girls, I know how hard it is to keep all three entertained for a decent period of time. The usual scenario? As summer vacation winds down and it feels like we’ve tried everything from bubbles to bouncy balls, at least one of them is bored with an activity and starts a revolt before we’ve even started. While most parents are tempted to pop in a no-fail movie for the umpteenth time, it’s important to provide hands-on activities for your multiples to stay engaged and active. Here’s a list of fun activities for August that’ll keep their little minds learning, their hands from pinching, and your memories together growing.

Be Creative When Cooling Off

The pool is an effortless way for your multiples to have fun and for you to steal some rays. That is, until frequent trips make it into a routine and they stop listening to your warnings; now they run when you tell them to walk and they fight over all of the pool toys. To mix things up a bit, bring a raft and have them take turns giving each other a ride, see who can make the best fish impressions, or play an old fashioned game of Marco Polo. Creativity is key to breaking bad pool behavior. Instead of the pool for water play, set up the sprinkler in your backyard and make an obstacle course through it using different toys and household items. For days you feel like traveling, go to your local sprinkler park, which is perfect for cooling them off and wearing them out just enough for quiet time later.

Host a Lemonade Stand

What better way to prepare them for future employment than to host a lemonade stand? Have your multiples help you make a large batch of lemonade, and teach them what it means to be rewarded for their hard work. This activity can be turned into a mini art project: have them decorate signs, serving cups, and a change box. To make sure they don’t fight over their duties, have them rotate between calling out to passerby’s, collecting money, and giving the lemonade to the customer. Learning to work together as a team is a welcomed bonus.

Go on a Camping Trip

Grab a couple of sleeping bags and pitch a tent in your backyard! This’ll make your little ones feel miles away and opens up a whole new set of outdoorsy activities. If you don’t have access to a grill, make s’mores in your microwave and eat them in the tent or read them a story by flashlight. While they’re tucked into their sleeping bags, have a star-gazing session before heading inside for bedtime.

Pretend to Own a Bakery

This is a sweet and satisfying rainy day activity. Have your multiples pretend they are little bakers and assist you in making cookies, cakes, brownies—you name it! Decorate with brightly-colored icings (add food coloring to white) and crazy toppings. If they’re old enough to read, this is also a great way to teach them how to carefully follow directions. For younger children, incorporate candy into the mixture, and ask them to count out the amount needed. You could also turn this activity into a “bake sale,” and follow the lemonade stand directions above.

Day Trip to an Amusement Park

This activity is definitely something to budget for, but is perhaps the most memorable of August activities. A trip to the amusement park is perfect for the whole family, and with school starting back up again, parks are less likely to be packed with older, rowdier kids. My nieces recently spent the day at one, and they are still chattering about how much fun they had riding the kiddie rides and running around the park with their parents. With arcade games, festival food, and an activity for every mood, this is definitely a memory worth making.

Author Bio:

Molly Borter is a writer from Indianapolis, IN, who specializes in sun safety. When she’s not playing with her triplet nieces, she loves following the latest fashion trends in women’s sunglasses, spending time with her girlfriends, and trying out new recipes. To keep your kids safe outdoors, make sure they are wearing UVA/UVB protected polarized sunglasses.

Thanks again, Molly, for writing for Mommy Rantings!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Maternity Looks for Less : Fall Fashion for Trendy Momma’s-to-be!

by Guest Blogger Sara Ellis

With fall fast approaching, a glimpse at some up-and-coming fall maternity fashions is in store!

[dress: ASOS: Exclusive Jersey Wrap Dress: $30]
[handbag: Handbag Heaven: Zara Shoulder Bag: $34.95]
[sunglasses: Sunglass Warehouse: Aviator Style: $15.95]
[necklaces: Dorothy Perkins: Heart Charm & Gold Ball Chain Locket: $12 & $12]
[heels: Urban Outfitters: UO Suede Pump: $49]
Breeze your way into fall in a wrap dress! Pregnant or not, a wrap dress is one of the most versatile (and comfortable) dresses in your wardrobe. Not only is it figure flattering for any body type - highlights all the right curves and minimizes the not so lovely ones - but it’s a great option for dressing up or down. And the best part? It adjusts with your growing baby belly. Selma Blair looks lovely in her bright red, but choose a color that works with your skin tone. Pair it with simple accessories and you’re good to go! This ASOS dress is quite the steal, but this wardrobe staple may be worth a splurge. You’ll get continuous wear out of it and it’s easy to change this look up. Add a light cotton scarf and some flats and you’re ready for lunch out with the ladies!
Author Bio: As a writer for, I love sharing fashion tips with savvy mom’s and mom’s-to-be! When I’m not sharing style advice, I’m reading, cooking, and spending time with my fiance!

[tee: Old Navy: Maternity Striped Boat-Neck Tee : $9.99]
[leggings: Dorothy Perkins: Maternity Black Leggings: $20]
[jacket: Oasis: Drape Pocket Soft Jacket: $97]
[handbag: Handbag Heaven: Vegan Quilted Hobo Handbag: $84.95]
[sunglasses: Sunglass Warehouse: Cat Eye Style: $12.95]
[boots: Mattisse: Colonel Riding Boot: $121.52]
Jessica Alba makes layers look lovely! Each piece of this ensemble is a style staple that will give you a lot of mileage throughout your pregnancy and even after your baby is born! Your “regular” wardrobe may be quite extensive, but when it comes to building your maternity wear, you want to be able to find style staples that are multi-functional. A great pair of leggings (hello, comfort!), a blazer for dressing up or down, and a tee shirt that looks lovely with jeans, leggings, or a skirt are a great place to start. Layering them also helps you transition throughout the seasons - or your changing body temperature! Look confident and carefree in this outfit!

Thanks, Sarah, for your contribution to Mommy Rantings (and providing your valuable insight of fashion for moms to be)!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Chuck E. Cheese's New Pizza Recipe Is A Hit! (Review and Giveaway)

Okay, so my almost-four-year-old is already begging to go back to Chuck E.Cheese's for his upcoming August birthday. He had a blast at last year's party and our recent trip there to evaluate their new pizza recipe only increased the amount of begging. He is seriously driving me crazy - on an hourly basis! August 16th won't come fast enough for him - or me, for that matter!

So, the children almost lost their minds when I read the email that I received about the new pizza recipe at Chuck E. Cheese's and the opportunity to visit and review the pizza with a guest pass. However, they were quick to pick up the fact that the Guest Pass wouldn't be enough for all of them to enjoy the trip. I quickly emailed the kind woman back and told her that we would love to review the new pizza, but our family was rather large, with 8 people and the Guest Pass only covered 4. (It never hurts to ask...)

To the children's excitement, the email that came back was in their favor. She would be sending us 2 Guest Passes, which included 2 large pizzas, 8 sodas and 60 tokens. The cheers were deafening. So, off to Chuck E. Cheese's we would go...thank goodness the Guest Passes arrived quickly in the mail, because the children were running to the mailbox every morning to see if their trip to Chuck E. Cheese's had arrived.

Before I progress any further into the story, I want to mention that I have never been a fan of the pizza at Chuck E. Cheese's. We would order it for the children, but I would usually order a salad instead of eating the pizza, so to hear that the recipe had changed was a big plus!

Chuck E. Cheese's Day

Well, the guest passes arrived quickly, as I said and I told the children that we would go on Sunday if they behaved and did all of their chores without fighting - don't you love a good bribe? Although they weren't perfect, and to be quite honest, they were more riled up than usual, I still took them to Chuck E. Cheese's on Sunday. (Update: I wrote this post a few weeks ago, but am just getting to posting it after the packing and moving and unpacking, etc.)

Why did I choose Sunday? I can't speak for all of the Chuck E. Cheese location's out there, but I can say that the one closest to us is practically empty early on Sunday mornings (that is when we scheduled Dylan's birthday and we had the whole place to ourselves for most of the party).

Lo and behold, we again walked into an empty Chuck E. Cheese's bright and early Sunday morning, which was wonderful for the kids, because there was no waiting for games. (It wasn't until about 1 p.m. when we started wrapping up to leave that people started showing up...and it's probably because we skipped church while all of the other good little families went to church like they were supposed to.)

We visited the Amherst, NY Chuck E. Cheese location on Harlem Road. The staff was very sweet, greeted us with big smiles and seemed a bit intrigued when I told them that we were there to evaluate the pizza as I presented the Guest Passes. They were wonderful to the children and more than happy to help us in any way possible. About halfway into our visit, the manager even came over to ask how everything was going and if there was anything he could do for us. A-Plus for the customer service!

We had brought about 50 tokens of our own from a previous trip to Chuck E. Cheese's, so I immediately started doling them out, but I was smart. I gave each child 5 tokens at a time and told them that when everyone ran out, I would give them all 5 more, so it paced their "spending". They all headed off for game time and I have to mention that little Kodi-bear (he was too young the last time we went, but this time, at just over two years old, he was ready!) started skipping around the building, looking at everything and I could tell that he was scoping out which game he wanted to play first. He loved the horse-race game, where you sit on the horse and pull the reigns and the horse moves like it is running and jumping. He must have done that one ten times!

The New, Improved PIZZA

Fortunately, the pizza was ready quickly - I don't even think that the children went through their first 10 tokens before the pizza was sitting on the table, which was great! So, how was it? I think that it was a lot better than the pizza they had before...Now, when you go to Chuck E Cheese, you will be greeted with Fresh Dough and 100% mozzarella cheese, rather than the gluey cheese and pastry puff yuckiness that once posed as pizza.

Two pizzas, sliced in 12 pieces each, were downed in less than 10 minutes and the kids were back to playing games as I carefully doled out the tokens in moderation...

Where's Chuck E.?

And, then the question came up, "Do you think Chuck E. Cheese is coming?" Hmmm...I wasn't sure! So, I told the kids to ask one of the staff members...and sure enough, he would be visiting in about 15 minutes. I awaited the reaction, because Dylan had cried the last time he saw Chuck E. Cheese and Kodi-bear is funny around strangers as it is...

So, I'll let you see for yourself what happened when the notorious Chuck E. showed up...Somehow, as things were moving so fast, I must have forgotten to save a few of the pics. :( But, you'll get the idea...

Veronica was more than happy to give him a warm welcome...

And, this time, Dylan wasn't scared!
But, Kodi-bear, on the other hand, was having nothing to do with the big mouse!
New Programs

In addition to their new pizza, a little birdie told me that Chuck E. Cheese's also has more new programs, including a "Tokens for Grades" program (I'll have to cash in on that! My kids get excellent grades!) and you should sign up for emails from Chuck E. Cheese's, because I get offers all of the time from their email system for free tokens and promo deals. For example, I think I'm going to HAVE to take Dylan there for his birthday next month...and I just happened to receive an email that offered 100 free tokens if I reserve a b-day party online, so that is exactly what we will do! They always have some kind of coupon deal going on at the website, too.

My final thought is this: We LOVED the new pizza recipe and the staff member that was at the ticket counter was a sweetheart! The kids had an odd number of tickets at the end of the visit and she rounded each child's number up to give them an even amount to spend. All in all, we were treated with respect and kindness at the Amherst, NY location and will definitely be going back again for Dylan's bday party!


The rep at Chuck E. Cheese's was wonderful enough to offer a guest pass as a giveaway for a Mommy Rantings reader! This will include one of their new pizzas, four soft drinks and 30 tokens for your family!

So, scoot over to the Chuck E. Cheese's Facebook page and click on "Like"...

Then, "Like" the Mommy Rantings page on Facebook and leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post that you did both. Easy, peasy!

Good Luck! (This giveaway will end August 31st!)

I received two guest passes to review the new pizza recipe at Chuck E. Cheese's...I did not receive compensation for this post. Thank you, Chuck E. Cheese's for this opportunity and the guest pass for the giveaway!
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